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Walker and Escobar win FG awards in November

After a month where they notched up 24 goals in 3 games, Europa duo Liam Walker and Rafael Escobar Obrero are FG’s Player of the Month and Manager of the Month for November.

Photo © C Correa Photography

FG Player of the Month – Liam Walker (Europa)

There were a number of stand-out performers this month, but Walker gets his nose in front of both Juanfri and Kike to this month’s award, having scored 7 and assisted a further 6 assists in that time. While in truth Europa had three games they were expected to win, they still had to see through these games, and as Glacis proved at times, there was the potential for Europa to slip up as they have done in previous non-title winning season’s. Walker’s contributions last month though ensured they took 9 points from a possible 9 – if he can keep that form up going forward, Europa have a real chance of winning the title.

  1. Liam Walker (Europa)
  2. Juan Francisco ‘Juanfri’ Garcia Pena (St Joseph’s)
  3. Enrique ‘Kike’ Gomez Bernal (Lincoln Red Imps)

FG Manager of the Month – Rafael Escobar Obrero (Europa)

In truth, it was a toss up between Escobar and Lincoln manager Victor Afonso for this award, with both winning three out of three games, and while some may disagree with the decision, we went for Escobar for the award this month having ensured Europa stay on the right track – should they win their game in hand they would be top of the league. Both Escobar and Afonso are ensuring their respective sides are not allowing any slip-ups against so-called weaker opponents, keeping up a level of performance that has made them two of the main title contenders for the last few season. In third, we opted for Lions manager Albert Ferri – while the quirks of the fixture list meant they only played once last month, he has dragged his Lions side up into contention for a top 6 spot in recent weeks, which is a good effort considering the lack of investment in the side, and recent season’s with more modest league finishes. If he gets Lions into the top 6, then there’s every chance Ferri may win this award next month.

  1. Rafael Escobar Obrero (Europa)
  2. Victor Afonso (Lincoln Red Imps)
  3. Albert Ferri (Lions Gibraltar)
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Gibraltar National League: Team of the Week

Matchday 10 results

  • FC Boca Juniors 1-8 Lincoln Red Imps (Kike x3, Gato x2, Lee Casciaro, Blas Alvarez, Borja Gil)
  • St Joseph’s 5-0 Europa Point (Juanfri x2, Rojas, Domingo, Pedrito)
  • Manchester 62 1-4 Mons Calpe (Ruh; Salas, Carella x2, Vinet)
  • College 1975 1-6 Lions Gibraltar (Hughes; Pomares x2, Luisma, Caravaca, Pecino, Matto OG)
  • Europa 6-2 Glacis United (Juampe x3, Walker x2, Labra; Terranova x2)

  • GOALKEEPER: Jamie Robba (St Joseph’s)
  • DEFENDER: Ethan Jolley (Europa)
  • DEFENDER: Thomas Hastings (Lions)
  • DEFENDER: Andres Salas (Mons Calpe)
  • MIDFIELDER: Antonio ‘Gato’ Ramon Rincon (Lincoln)
  • MIDFIELDER: Ayoub El Hmidi (Mons Calpe)
  • MIDFIELDER: Domingo Ferrer Lopez (St Joseph’s)
  • MIDFIELDER: Juan Pedro ‘Juampe’ Rico Dominguez (Europa)
  • STRIKER: Abraham Pomares Fernandez (Lions)
  • STRIKER: Juanfri Pena Garcia (St Joseph’s)
  • STRIKER: Enrique ‘Kike’ Gomez Bernal (Lincoln)
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How yellow and red cards could decide final Championship Group team

Disciplinary record, or a one-off match, could decide who finishes in sixth place and takes the final Championship Group spot, if Mons Calpe and Lions both end up on 15 points at the end of the first round.

Photo © Rough & Ready

Going by the official league rules (see image below), if teams can’t be separated by points, head-to-head or head-to-head goal difference, then Fair Play rules are applied to separate teams in the league. With Mons Calpe drawing 1-1 against Lions back in September, the first three rules would not be possible to separate them if the two sides were to finish on level points. This would require Mons Calpe drawing against Europa in their final game, and Lions taking six points from their final three matches (vs Europa, Glacis & Boca). Crucially, goal difference does not get taken into account, a rule which came into place for this season after teams benefited from putting double-digit scores past depleted and noncompetitive sides at the end of the season.

The official Gibraltar National League rules from the GFA site, explaining the tie-breakers if teams finish on level points.

The two sides are believed to have similar disciplinary records, with both sides recording 28 yellow cards so far (albeit Lions have played two games fewer than Mons), while Mons have had 1 more red card than Lions. However, they would hold the advantage in that they have less games left to pick up cards than their top six rivals, who would have to be on their best behaviour in the last three games should this outcome occur. Of course, should Mons beat Europa, then this situation would not crop up as Lions would require 8 points from 3 games to finish level with them, which is impossible in the 3 points for a win setup.

Should Glacis beat Lions, they also have a chance of finishing top 6, however their head to head is worse against Mons, having lost 5-0 to them earlier this season, so this scenario could not occur – they would need Mons to lose to Europa, and Glacis to beat Lions, Boca and Lynx in their final three games to qualify.

Should Mons and Lions tie in fair play ruling, a one-off match would have to be fit into calendar, likely with extra time and/or penalties required if necessary to decide who takes the last spot – which would be a thrilling finale to the first half of the season.

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Lincoln’s Intermediate side maintain unbeaten record

Lincoln Intermediate maintained their 100% record in the Intermediate League this season when they beat Glacis Intermediate 4-0 on Sunday, with the return to action of Jamie Bosio and Pibe an added bonus for both Malcolm Martin’s side, as well as Lincoln’s first team in the second half of the season.

Photo © Neil Wilson/Lincoln Red Imps

Lincoln, who won the Intermediate League and have actually yet to lose a league game since the division was created, beat a Glacis side who before the game had only lost one of their eight fixtures, with a lot of the younger players in the Glacis team featuring for both the main and U23 sides.

As well as the side having been a springboard for some of their younger talent, such as Julian Del Rio and Craig Galliano, to make appearances in the first team this season, the U23 side have also acted as a first playing step in the return to first team football of both Jamie Bosio and Pibe. Bosio, who missed 14 months of football after suffering an injury for Gib United last season, joined Lincoln’s Intermediate side both as a way to get back into the game, after Gib United went bust in the summer, but also to help Lincoln’s youngsters both on and off the pitch using his experience, having played for the national team 12 times. The midfielder returned as a sub last week and was afforded a standing ovation against Manchester 62’s Intermediate side upon his return, while he also played 30 minutes vs Glacis Intermediate yesterday.

Meanwhile, for Pibe, who joined Lincoln from Mons Calpe in the summer, the striker will be looking to get back into regular first team action soon, helping to spearhead an impressive attack on paper for Lincoln – although he will have stiff competition to earn his place up top for Victor Afonso’s side, with the likes of Kike and Idelino Colubali getting in on the goals this season already.

For Malcolm Martin, the aim will be to continue developing the next generation of Lincoln youngsters with the aim of getting them as regular first team players, especially when you consider the likes of Roy Chipolina, Lee Casciaro and Kyle Goldwin are all 34 or older – he’ll also be hoping to catch the eye as a manager too, with there being a belief especially within Lincoln circles that he could make the step up to coach one of the youth national sides in the not too distant future.

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Gibraltar National League: Team of the Week

Matchday 9 results

  • Europa 6-1 Boca Juniors (Walker x2, Yome x2, Juampe, Labra; Formica-Corsi)
  • Glacis United 4-0 College 1975 (Brinkman, Lopez, Londero, Guerrero OG)
  • Lynx 5-0 Manchester 62 (Kokorovic, Gonzalez, Badr, Seatory x2)
  • Mons Calpe 0-6 St Joseph’s (Juanfri x4, Garro, Rojas)
  • Magpies 0-3 Lincoln Red Imps (Coombes, Hernandez, Colubali)

  • GOALKEEPER: Ivan Moreno (Glacis)
  • DEFENDER: Jack Sergeant (Europa)
  • DEFENDER: Ezequiel Rojas (St Joseph’s)
  • DEFENDER: Hrvoje Bukvic (Lynx)
  • DEFENDER: Bernardo Lopes (Lincoln)
  • DEFENDER: Miguel Londero (Glacis)
  • MIDFIELDER: Antonio ‘Gato’ Ramon Rincon (Lincoln)
  • MIDFIELDER: Antonio Gonzalez Garcia (Lynx)
  • MIDFIELDER: Julian Brinkman (Glacis)
  • MIDFIELDER: Mikey Yome (Europa)
  • STRIKER: Juanfri Pena Garcia (St Joseph’s)
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Belarus beat valiant Gibraltar

Goals in either half secured Belarus a 2-0 win over a Gibraltar side which put in a positive display.

David Ochello brought Ethan Santos, Andrew Hernandez & Jayce Olivero straight into the squad, replacing Stefan Ramirez, James Parkinson & Evan De Haro while Leon Clinton led the line and Ayoub El Hmidi dropped to the bench.

Belarus nearly opened the scoring in the opening 50 seconds but Ilya Ahkurin shot just wide from inside the box. Jaylan Hankins would be called into action a few minutes later, making two great saves to keep the score at 0-0.

Belarus were awarded a penalty in the 24th minute for a handball which was scored by Pavel Sedko. Jaylan Hankins would make an excellent low save to deny the visitors a second goal then Jayce Olivero would see his shot blocked on the other end.

The Belgian referee blew for half-time with Belarus leading Gibraltar 1-0.

Shkurin squandered a great chance to make it 2-0 on the 53rd minute as the Belarus striker headed the ball wide from Shevchenko’s cross. Ochello would make his first substitution a few minutes later with Shaun De Los Santos replacing Leon Clinton.

After missing a number of chances, Shkurin would make no mistake in the 58th minute as he easily beat his marker in the air and headed the ball past Hankins to make it 2-0.

With about 20 minutes remaining, Ochello made his second substitution with Ayoub El Hmidi replacing Dylan Peacock. Bram Van Driessche did enjoy the sound of his whistle but the lenient eventually showed his first yellow card to Gibraltar defender Jamie Serra.

Ochello made his final two substitutions in the 89th minute with Michael Ruiz & Stefan Ramirez replacing Jack Breed & Jamie Serra.

There were no further goals in the three minutes added time and Belarus walked away with a 2-0 win.

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Gibraltar U19s concede 43 goals in 3 qualifying matches

Steve Cummings and his Gibraltar U19’s suffered badly in their U19 qualifying campaign this month, conceding 43 goals in three matches after today’s 16-1 defeat against Switzerland.

The team, which admittedly was not helped by having five of their eligible players called up to the U21 side for their international matches, suffered 14-0 and 13-0 defeats against Austria and Republic of Ireland in their first two games, and notably by the time the game vs Switzerland came about, Gib only had four substitutes available for the game, despite setting off for Austria with a 19-man squad. Craig Galliano’s penalty was the only positive note in the final match, although by then that was to make the score 5-1.

The results however will no doubt be of concern to GFA officials, especially considering the last U19 qualifying campaign saw 18 goals conceded in 3 matches, and 19 in the tournament before that – the total of 43 this time out is alarming, as are some of the other stats from the three games*:

130 – shots conceded (1 shot every 2 minutes, 4 seconds)

69 – shots on target conceded (1 shot every 3 minutes, 54 seconds)

6 minutes, 16 seconds – minutes and seconds per goal conceded

7 – shots taken (1 shot every 38 minutes, 34 seconds)

3 – shots on target (1 shot on target every 90 minutes)

Naturally, the general reaction within local footballing circles has not been positive, and the recent trip to Taiwan for the Development Tournament, where Gib beat Hong Kong and narrowly lost to Myanmar and the host nation Chinese Taipei, has not provided the momentum perhaps hoped for. For Cummings, his job may be under threat given there has been a sharp downturn in the performances of the team in such a short space of time. For the players, who in truth will have not been able to do much about these performances, this will be a very steep learning curve for them – the job for the clubs and families of these players now is to ensure the players aren’t too adversely affected by the results and that it doesn’t stunt their development too much.

The only respite going forward for Gib is that this is the last campaign at U19 level in this format, with the next qualifiers taking on a Nations League set-up. Gib will therefore play U19 teams more at their level in future campaigns which hopefully will lead to a more balanced playing field. Hopefully this month’s disastrous campaign can be used as a springboard to work on improving the U19 team (and other youth teams) going forward both on and off the pitch – from how they play when in a game to ensuring they are still developing while at university in UK by ensuring they get places at proper clubs, and not just uni teams, where the standard is basically Sunday League (the university issue is a major problem for Gib at this level, but is something to discuss in a different article) and much more – especially given in a few years a lot of these youngsters will be potentially making the senior side.

*All stats courtesy of UEFA.com.

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Switzerland qualify while Gibraltar finish bottom

Switzerland secured qualification to Euro 2020 with a comfortable 6-1 win over Gibraltar in what is probably their last game at the Victoria Stadium before it’s redevelopment.

Gibraltar’s promising start was undone in the 10th minute when Denmark made it 1-0 as a low cross found its way to Cedric Itten at the back post, and the striker tapped the ball into an empty net.

The Swiss continued to control the game but the odd Gibraltar attack had the crowd rallying – but it would be their final ball which would let them down.

Tjay De Barr did his utmost best to lead the Gibraltar line (as he has done throughout their campaign) and for the first 33 minutes proved too be a handful for Borussia Dortmund defender Manuel Akanji.

The French referee brought a halt to a positive first half display from Gibraltar with the visitors leading 1-0.

The vistors got off to a fast start and a Loris Bentio shot was excellently saved by Dayle Coleing. Switzerland eventually made it 2-0 in the 53rd minute as a deflected header from Ruben Vargas beat Coleing, sending him the wrong way.

Switzerland scored a third which mirrored the first, Gibraltar defence fail to clear a cross and Christian Fassnacht fires in the loose ball. Julio Ribas would later be forced into making a double substitution with Reece Styche & Jamie Coombes replacing Lee Casciaro & Tjay De Barr, both picking up injuries.

Coleing made a good save to prevent Ruben Vargas from getting his second of the night and minutes later, kept out a close range header from Itten. Gibraltar got a goal back in the 74th minute as Reece Styche picked up a loose ball in the box and fired it past Sommer.

Less than 60 seconds later and Swiss made it 4-1 thanks to Loris Benito. Goals number 5 & 6 were two minutes apart as Itten got his brace and captain Granit Xhaka with a nice finish from inside the box.

There were no further goals in the four minutes of added time shown and Switzerland ran out 6-1 winners.

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Gibraltar v Switzerland: Preview

Gibraltar will end their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign at the Victoria Stadium against Switzerland at 20:45.

Second placed-Switzerland are nearly exempt from the Group D drama as they head to Gibraltar with three points needed. The Swiss are a win away from securing their place at Euro 2020, while the other two sides in the running are set to fight it out in Dublin.

Julio Ribas may look into making a couple of changes for tonight’s game as the Gibraltar head coach spoke in his post-match press conference about four of the six goalss his side conceded in Denmark last week being individual errors.

One change in the starting eleven is definite, as Jayce Olivero is suspended after picking up three yellow cards, and Ribas may be looking at either Ethan Jolley or Alain Pons as his replacement.

Gibraltar XI – Coleing; Sergeant, R.Chipolina, J.Chipolina, Britto; L.Casciaro, Walker, Mouelhi, Badr, Pons; De Barr

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Denmark comfortably beat Gibraltar in Copenhagen

Denmark ran out comfortable winners at the Telia Parken Stadium this evening, as braces from Robert Skov and Christian Eriksen helped them on the way to a 6-0 victory against Gibraltar.

The brace from the Hoffenheim and Spurs playmakers, as well as goals from Lech Poznan’s Christian Gytkjaer and Leganes striker Martin Braithwaite ensured the Danes ran out comfortable winners, ahead of their must-win encounter in Dublin vs Ireland on Monday night.

The hosts looked to control the game from the off but a nervy backpass from Simon Kjaer to Kasper Schmeichel led to a Gibraltar corner which was wasted.

Denmark continued to keep hold of the ball and took the lead in the 12th minute through a scruffy shot from Robert Skov – the wet conditions benefiting the hosts in the build-up to the goal.

Two minutes later and Jayce Olivero picked up the first yellow card of the game – Robert Skov stepped up and blasted his free-kick over the crossbar. Another threatening attack from the hosts saw Mathias Jorgensen come in at the back post and direct his header onto the crossbar. Olivero’s booking means he misses Monday’s match vs Switzerland through suspension, after accumulating three cards in seven group games.

Goldwin prevented Denmark from doubling their lead in the 23rd minute, pulling off a fantastic low save from Christian Gytkjar’s shot. A few minutes later Joseph Chipolina was booked for what looked to be dissent seeing as the defender hadn’t fouled anyone beforehand.

Liam Walker delivered a free-kick into the box which was flicked on by one of the Gibraltar players and brought out a superb save from Kasper Schmeichel but the linesman had put up his flag for offside.

Denmark went into the break leading Gibraltar 1-0.

Two minutes into the second half and Denmark made it 2-0, Christian Gytkjaer capitalised on a misjudgement from Kyle Goldwin to tap the ball into an empty net.

51 minutes in and Denmark made it 3-0 thanks to Martin Braithwaite scoring from a loose ball in the box. Robert Skov got his second of the game and Denmark’s fourth on the 64th minute.

Julio Ribas used all his three substitutions in the space of six minutes with Erin Barnett, Andrew Hernandez & Reece Styche replacing Aymen Mouelhi, Mohamed Badr & Tjay De Barr.

Christian Eriksen got in on the act, scoring a fifth via a deflected effort with just over five minutes remaining in the game, before the classy Tottenham midfielder tapped in a sixth with literally the last kick of the game to repeat the scoreline from the two team’s match at Victoria Stadium in September.